Is it correct to place a comma after 'is'? Please, no recast.

The question is, where do we get the money to pay for it?

  • As the source is not personally identified, this a 'notional' quote (ie of words not actually voiced or written). They may or may not be exactly as a person imagined them. (In fact, they may be a previous 'true' quote.) Thus inverted commas are 'at the communicator's discretion' according to at least one style guide. Commas / colons before quotes are also considered optional by many nowadays; in fact, some writers wisely choose whichever they think fits best on a case-by-case basis. I'd use a comma here for clarity. When the inverted commas are omitted, a capital looks out of place. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 27 '15 at 0:39

Yes, "the question is" at the beginning is some sort of introduction which has no effect on the following question. But if you take away the comma, now the rest has to count as a part of a larger construction, which is not a question: "The question is where we get the money to pay for it." Grammatically, this declares what the question is, rather than asking a question, though it could still be interpreted as having the force of a question. In the first version "do" is an inverted present tense, as is normal in independent questions, but in the second, comma-less version, no "do" is required, because grammatically, it's not a question.

There is a similar difference between "I wonder, did he get sick?" and "I wonder if he got sick."

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The question is: where do we get the money to pay for it?

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  • I thought we could never use a colon like that, ie after a 'to-be' verb. – whippoorwill Jan 26 '15 at 3:32
  • I always thought a complete sentence had to precede a colon, eg: The question is this: where do we get the money to pay for it? – whippoorwill Jan 26 '15 at 3:35
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    @whippoorwill In the The Interrupting Colon – ie a colon after a verb thread, OP answers himself: 'The Handbook of Good English and Merriam Webster's Standard American Style Manual support colons after to-be verbs. Awesome!' Do I need to point out who posted and answered the question? – Edwin Ashworth Jan 29 '15 at 17:12

I think the correct sentence would be : " The question is where we get the money to pay for it." (No question mark) Edit: In short, no, it's not correct to put a comma between the two clauses in question.

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  • This is (1) a correct paraphrase but (2) neither the correct sentence nor (3) an answer to OP's question (he specifies 'no recast'). – Edwin Ashworth Jan 29 '15 at 17:05

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